A subtext of the discussion from yesterday’s post has been bouncing around in my brain. I don’t want to put words in anyone’s mouth but there was this theme running through the conversation that asking for money is a bad thing. Maybe it was all the talk of community and conversation as opposed to asking for a donation that started me thinking about it.
Here’s what I think.
I think if I’m homeless and need a safe place to sleep I hope someone will ask for a gift to pay for that bed until I’m back on my feet.
If I’m hungry and need a meal I’d like you to ask someone to pay for the food (we can chat about the roots of hunger when I can’t hear my stomach growl, OK?). Interestingly the headline on yesterday’s Feeding America press release begins “ONE IN SIX YOUNG CHILDREN LIVE AT RISK OF HUNGER IN 26 U.S. STATES…” You can bet that those children need you to ask someone to pay for their food.
If my son needs a heart transplant you better believe I’m going to talk to everyone I know to get that taken care of. In fact, I’m probably going to do some cold calling if that’s what it takes.
If someone I love is a slave to drugs I hope that someone will ask for the funding to pay for the program to change their life.
You get point.
Things we’re passionate about we find a way to talk about and ask for help with.
It’s uncomfortable to ask for money and it can certainly be uncomfortable to be asked. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not advocating all the abuses of fundraising. If you know Oneicity and the way we operate, you know that’s not what we’re about. We’re about relationships…but if you have a relationship with someone then you can ask them for help. In fact, if you and I have a relationship and you need something I can help with, I want you to ask me. Actually I expect you to ask me–that’s what friends are for. I think this is somehow a version of Seth Godin’s Permission Marketing, sort of permission fundraising.
I’ve done face-to-face major donor fundraising as an Executive Director. I didn’t like asking for donations for projects that weren’t clear or were loaded with overhead. In fact, I’ll confess that I did just enough to make budget on those projects (and I killed them as quickly as I could).
But…there were some projects that were near and dear to my heart. I knew the difference a gift made. For those projects, I was ferocious. And funny, I raised more than enough money. And when donors caught the vision THEY became fundraisers. I’m not sure I was as bold as the apostle Paul but I was bold.
What I wonder is if people are reacting to asking for a donation without having a relationship. We’ve talked on this blog about the abuses of fundraising–from terrible CRM to the carpet bombing direct mail, etc, etc.
I’m just not convinced that the asking is the problem. The problem is asking without a relationship.
What do you think?
(photo credits: robert sharp)